Search Results: "ley"

27 September 2023

Jonathan McDowell: onak 0.6.3 released

Yesterday I tagged a new version of onak, my OpenPGP compatible keyserver. I d spent a bit of time during DebConf doing some minor cleanups, in particular an annoying systemd socket activation issue I d been seeing. That turned out to be due completely failing to compile in the systemd support, even when it was detected. There was also a signature verification issue with certain Ed225519 signatures (thanks Antoine Beaupr for making me dig into that one), along with various code cleanups. I also worked on Stateless OpenPGP CLI support, which is something I talked about when I released 0.6.2. It isn t something that s suitable for release, but it is sufficient to allow running the OpenPGP interoperability test suite verification tests, which I m pleased to say all now pass. For the next release I m hoping the OpenPGP crypto refresh process will have completed, which at the very least will mean adding support for v6 packet types and fingerprints. The PostgreSQL DB backend could also use some love, and I might see if performance with SQLite3 has improved any. Anyway. Available locally or via GitHub.
0.6.3 - 26th September 2023
  • Fix systemd detection + socket activation
  • Add CMake checking for Berkeley DB
  • Minor improvements to keyd logging
  • Fix decoding of signature creation time
  • Relax version check on parsing signature + key packets
  • Improve HTML escaping
  • Handle failed database initialisation more gracefully
  • Fix bug with EDDSA signatures with top 8+ bits unset

22 September 2023

Scarlett Gately Moore: KDE: KDE Neon updates! Qt6 transition moving along.

With user edition out the door last week, this week was spent stabilizing unstable! Spent some time sorting out our Calamares installer being quite grumpy which is now fixed by reverting an upstream change. Unstable and developer ISO rebuilt and installable. Spent some time sorting out some issues with using an unreleased appstream ( thanks ximion for help with packagekit! ) KDE applications are starting to switch to Qt6 in master this week, the big one being KDE PIM! This entails an enormous amount of work re-packaging. I have made a dent, sorta. To be continued next week. I fixed our signond / kaccounts line for qt6 which entailed some work on upstream code that uses QStringList.toSet which was removed in Qt6! Always learning new things! I have spent some time working on the KF6 content snap, working with Jarred to make sure his qt6 content snap will work for us. Unfortunately, I do not have much time for this as I must make money to survive, donations help free up time for this  Our new proposal with Kevin s super awesome management company has been submitted and we will hopefully hear back next week. Thanks for stopping by! Till next week. If you can spare some change, consider a donation Thank you!

14 September 2023

Scarlett Gately Moore: KDE: KDE neon user edition updates! Debian updates, Snaps on hold.

Witch Wells Az
I had to make the hard decision to put snaps on hold. I am working odd jobs to stay alive and to pay for my beautiful scenery. My Project should move forward, as I have done everything asked of me including finding a super awesome management team to take us all the way through. But until it is signed sealed and delivered, I have to survive. In my free time I am helping out Jonathan and working on KDE Neon, he has done so much for me over the years, it is the least I can do! So without further ado! Carlos and I have been working diligently on new Frameworks 5.110, Plasma 5.27.8, and Applications 23.08.1! They are complete and ready in /user! With that, a great many fixes to qml dependencies and packaging updates. Current users can update freely and the docker images and ISO are building now. We are working on Unstable as it is a bit unstable right now, but improving  On the Debian front I am wrapping up packaging of new upstream release of squashfuse. Thanks for stopping by! If you can spare some change, consider a donation Thank you!

1 September 2023

Scarlett Gately Moore: KDE: Weekly report and News, 23.08.0 Snaps call for testing!

Another busy week in the KDE snap world. Most of the release-service apps are in candidate channel waiting to be tested. Testing is the bottle neck in the process, so I am trying something new and calling for help! Please test your favorite apps and report on any issues and which apps tested. Thanks! There are some very big fixes in this release: The KF6 content pack is coming along nicely using qt-framework-sdk snap! Qt5 content snap using KDE patch set is nearly complete! I believe I have a solution for our PIM applications by creating an Akondai dbus provider snap and setting all the PIM applications as consumers. I am waiting for manual review to pass. I have a pile of new applications waiting for reserved name approvals. Igor has pinged the relevant people to speed this normally quick process up. The pushback on per repository snapcraft files has stopped, so I have begun the process, which will take some time. This is a huge step in automating snap builds and cutting down my manual work so I can do more exciting things like plasma snaps! Some big news on my project, a big thank you goes out to Kevin Ottens for reaching out, his company does exactly what I need to move it forward. I will update as we hash out the details, but it looks like my project isn t dead after all! I know many have asked Why haven t you given up already?? The answer in short, I am stubborn. I refuse to give up on anything until I am given a good reason to. When I started my path in computers oh so many years ago, you would be surprised how many people told me to give it up, you ll never make it as a woman. Challenge accepted. Here I am, still going strong. When I want something, I go get it, no matter what it takes! I still need to have a ( somewhat desperate ) call for donations. This will hopefully end soon, but for now, please consider donating to my September survival fund! Please share with anyone you that may find my work useful in any way. Thanks for your consideration
PS: Debian uploads for bubble-gum are moving along. Please if you have any packaging you need done in Debian proper, let me know and I will get on it, time allowing of course.

27 August 2023

Shirish Agarwal: FSCKing /home

There is a bit of context that needs to be shared before I get to this and would be a long one. For reasons known and unknown, I have a lot of sudden electricity outages. Not just me, all those who are on my line. A discussion with a lineman revealed that around 200+ families and businesses are on the same line and when for whatever reason the electricity goes for all. Even some of the traffic lights don t work. This affects software more than hardware or in some cases, both. And more specifically HDD s are vulnerable. I had bought an APC unit several years for precisely this, but over period of time it just couldn t function and trips also when the electricity goes out. It s been 6-7 years so can t even ask customer service to fix the issue and from whatever discussions I have had with APC personnel, the only meaningful difference is to buy a new unit but even then not sure this is an issue that can be resolved, even with that. That comes to the issue that happens once in a while where the system fsck is unable to repair /home and you need to use an external pen drive for the same. This is my how my hdd stacks up
/ is on dev/sda7 /boot is on /dev/sda6, /boot/efi is on /dev/sda2 and /home is on /dev/sda8 so theoretically, if /home for some reason doesn t work I should be able drop down on /dev/sda7, unmount /dev/sda8, run fsck and carry on with my work. I tried it number of times but it didn t work. I was dropping down on tty1 and attempting the same, no dice as root/superuser getting the barest x-term. So first I tried asking couple of friends who live nearby me. Unfortunately, both are MS-Windows users and both use what are called as company-owned laptops . Surfing on those systems were a nightmare. Especially the number of pop-ups of ads that the web has become. And to think about how much harassment ublock origin has saved me over the years. One of the more interesting bits from both their devices were showing all and any downloads from fosshub was showing up as malware. I dunno how much of that is true or not as haven t had to use it as most software we get through debian archives or if needed, download from github or wherever and run/install it and you are in business. Some of them even get compiled into a good .deb package but that s outside the conversation atm. My only experience with fosshub was few years before the pandemic and that was good. I dunno if fosshub really has malware or malwarebytes was giving false positives. It also isn t easy to upload a 600 MB+ ISO file somewhere to see whether it really has malware or not. I used to know of a site or two where you could upload a suspicious file and almost 20-30 famous and known antivirus and anti-malware engines would check it and tell you the result. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the URL and seeing things from MS-Windows perspective, things have gotten way worse than before. So left with no choice, I turned to the local LUG for help. Fortunately, my mobile does have e-mail and I could use gmail to solicit help. While there could have been any number of live CD s that could have helped but one of my first experiences with GNU/Linux was that of Knoppix that I had got from Linux For You (now known as OSFY) sometime in 2003. IIRC, had read an interview of Mr. Klaus Knopper as well and was impressed by it. In those days, Debian wasn t accessible to non-technical users then and Knoppix was a good tool to see it. In fact, think he was the first to come up with the idea of a Live CD and run with it while Canonical/Ubuntu took another 2 years to do it. I think both the CD and the interview by distrowatch was shared by LFY in those early days. Of course, later the story changes after he got married, but I think that is more about Adriane rather than Knoppix. So Vishal Rao helped me out. I got an HP USB 3.2 32GB Type C OTG Flash Drive x5600c (Grey & Black) from a local hardware dealer around similar price point. The dealer is a big one and has almost 200+ people scattered around the city doing channel sales who in turn sell to end users. Asking one of the representatives about their opinion on stopping electronic imports (apparently more things were added later to the list including all sorts of sundry items from digital cameras to shavers and whatnot.) The gentleman replied that he hopes that it would not happen otherwise more than 90% would have to leave their jobs. They already have started into lighting fixtures (LED bulbs, tubelights etc.) but even those would come in the same ban  The main argument as have shared before is that Indian Govt. thinks we need our home grown CPU and while I have no issues with that, as shared before except for RISC-V there is no other space where India could look into doing that. Especially after the Chip Act, Biden has made that any new fabs or any new thing in chip fabrication will only be shared with Five Eyes only. Also, while India is looking to generate about 2000 GW by 2030 by solar, China has an ambitious 20,000 GW generation capacity by the end of this year and the Chinese are the ones who are actually driving down the module prices. The Chinese are also automating their factories as if there s no tomorrow. The end result of both is that China will continue to be the world s factory floor for the foreseeable future and whoever may try whatever policies, it probably is gonna be difficult to compete with them on prices of electronic products. That s the reason the U.S. has been trying so that China doesn t get the latest technology but that perhaps is a story for another day.

HP USB 3.2 Type C OTG Flash Drive x5600c For people who have had read this blog they know that most of the flash drives today are MLC Drives and do not have the longevity of the SLC Drives. For those who maybe are new, this short brochure/explainer from Kingston should enhance your understanding. SLC Drives are rare and expensive. There are also a huge number of counterfeit flash drives available in the market and almost all the companies efforts whether it s Kingston, HP or any other manufacturer, they have been like a drop in the bucket. Coming back to the topic at hand. While there are some tools that can help you to figure out whether a pen drive is genuine or not. While there are products that can tell you whether they are genuine or not (basically by probing the memory controller and the info. you get from that.) that probably is a discussion left for another day. It took me couple of days and finally I was able to find time to go Vishal s place. The journey of back and forth lasted almost 6 hours, with crazy traffic jams. Tells you why Pune or specifically the Swargate, Hadapsar patch really needs a Metro. While an in-principle nod has been given, it probably is more than 5-7 years or more before we actually have a functioning metro. Even the current route the Metro has was supposed to be done almost 5 years to the date and even the modified plan was of 3 years ago. And even now, most of the Stations still need a lot of work to be done. PMC, Deccan as examples etc. still have loads to be done. Even PMT (Pune Muncipal Transport) that that is supposed to do the last mile connections via its buses has been putting half-hearted attempts

Vishal Rao While Vishal had apparently seen me and perhaps we had also interacted, this was my first memory of him although we have been on a few boards now and then including stackexchange. He was genuine and warm and shared 4-5 distros with me, including Knoppix and System Rescue as shared by Arun Khan. While this is and was the first time I had heard about Ventoy apparently Vishal has been using it for couple of years now. It s a simple shell script that you need to download and run on your pen drive and then just dump all the .iso images. The easiest way to explain ventoy is that it looks and feels like Grub. Which also reminds me an interaction I had with Vishal on mobile. While troubleshooting the issue, I was unsure whether it was filesystem that was the issue or also systemd was corrupted. Vishal reminded me of putting fastboot to the kernel parameters to see if I m able to boot without fscking and get into userspace i.e. /home. Although journalctl and systemctl were responding even on tty1 still was a bit apprehensive. Using fastboot was able to mount the whole thing and get into userspace and that told me that it s only some of the inodes that need clearing and there probably are some orphaned inodes. While Vishal had got a mini-pc he uses that a server, downloads stuff to it and then downloads stuff from it. From both privacy, backup etc. it is a better way to do things but then you need to laptop to access it. I am sure he probably uses it for virtualization and other ways as well but we just didn t have time for that discussion. Also a mini-pc can set you back anywhere from 25 to 40k depending on the mini-pc and the RAM and the SSD. And you need either a lappy or an Raspberry Pi with some kinda visual display to interact with the mini-pc. While he did share some of the things, there probably could have been a far longer interaction just on that but probably best left for another day. Now at my end, the system I had bought is about 5-6 years old. At that time it only had 6 USB 2.0 drives and 2 USB 3.0 (A) drives.
The above image does tell of the various form factors. One of the other things is that I found the pendrive and its connectors to be extremely fiddly. It took me number of times fiddling around with it when I was finally able to put in and able to access the pen drive partitions. Unfortunately, was unable to see/use systemrescue but Knoppix booted up fine. I mounted the partitions briefly to see where is what and sure enough /dev/sda8 showed my /home files and folders. Unmounted it, then used $fsck -y /dev/sda8 and back in business. This concludes what happened. Updates Quite a bit was left out on the original post, part of which I didn t know and partly stuff which is interesting and perhaps need a blog post of their own. It s sad I won t be part of debconf otherwise who knows what else I would have come to know.
  1. One of the interesting bits that I came to know about last week is the Alibaba T-Head T-Head TH1520 RISC-V CPU and saw it first being demoed on a laptop and then a standalone tablet. The laptop is an interesting proposition considering Alibaba opened up it s chip thing only couple of years ago. To have an SOC within 18 months and then under production for lappies and tablets is practically unheard of especially of a newbie/startup. Even AMD took 3-4 years for its first chip.It seems they (Alibaba) would be parceling them out by quarter end 2023 and another 1000 pieces/Units first quarter next year, while the scale is nothing compared to the behemoths, I think this would be more as a matter of getting feedback on both the hardware and software. The value proposition is much better than what most of us get, at least in India. For example, they are doing a warranty for 5 years and also giving spare parts. RISC-V has been having a lot of resurgence in China in part as its an open standard and partly development will be far cheaper and faster than trying x86 or x86-64. If you look into both the manufacturers, due to monopoly, both of them now give 5-8% increment per year, and if you look back in history, you would find that when more chips were in competition, they used to give 15-20% performance increment per year.
2. While Vishal did share with me what he used and the various ways he uses the mini-pc, I did have a fun speculating on what he could use it. As shared by Romane as his case has shared, the first thing to my mind was backups. Filesystems are notorious in the sense they can be corrupted or can be prone to be corrupted very easily as can be seen above  . Backups certainly make a lot of sense, especially rsync. The other thing that came to my mind was having some sort of A.I. and chat server. IIRC, somebody has put quite a bit of open source public domain data in debian servers that could be used to run either a chatbot or an A.I. or both and use that similar to how chatGPT but with much limited scope than what chatgpt uses. I was also thinking a media server which Vishal did share he does. I may probably visit him sometime to see what choices he did and what he learned in the process, if anything. Another thing that could be done is just take a dump of any of commodity markets or any markets and have some sort of predictive A.I. or whatever. A whole bunch of people have scammed thousands of Indian users on this, but if you do it on your own and for your own purposes to aid you buy and sell stocks or whatever commodity you may fancy. After all, nowadays markets themselves are virtual. While Vishal s mini-pc doesn t have any graphics, if it was an AMD APU mini-pc, something like this he could have hosted games in the way of thick server, thin client where all graphics processing happens on the server rather than the client. With virtual reality I think the case for the same case could be made or much more. The only problem with VR/AR is that we don t really have mass-market googles, eye pieces or headset. The only notable project that Google has/had in that place is the Google VR Cardboard headset and the experience is not that great or at least was not that great few years back when I could hear and experience the same. Most of the VR headsets say for example the Meta Quest 2 is for around INR 44k/- while Quest 3 is INR 50k+ and officially not available. As have shared before, the holy grail of VR would be when it falls below INR 10k/- so it becomes just another accessory, not something you really have to save for. There also isn t much content on that but then that is also the whole chicken or egg situation. This again is a non-stop discussion as so much has been happening in that space it needs its own blog post/article whatever. Till later.

25 August 2023

Ian Jackson: I cycled to all the villages in alphabetical order

This last weekend I completed a bike rides project I started during the first Covid lockdown in 2020: I ve cycled to every settlement (and radio observatory) within 20km of my house, in alphabetical order. Stir crazy In early 2020, during the first lockdown, I was going a bit stir crazy. Clare said you re going very strange, you have to go out and get some exercise . After a bit of discussion, we came up with this plan: I d visit all the local villages, in alphabetical order. Choosing the radius I decided that I would pick a round number of kilometers, as the crow flies, from my house. 20km seemed about right. 25km would have included Ely, which would have been nice, but it would have added a great many places, all of them quite distant. Software I wrote a short Rust program to process OSM data into a list of places to visit, and their distances and bearings. You can download a tarball of the alphabetical villages scanner. (I haven t published the git history because it has my house s GPS coordinates in it, and because I committed the output files from which that location can be derived.) The Rides I set off on my first ride, to Aldreth, on Sunday the 31st of May 2020. The final ride collected Yelling, on Saturday the 19th of August 2023. I did quite a few rides in June and July 2020 - more than one a week. (I d read the lockdown rules, and although some of the government messaging said you should stay near your house, that wasn t in the legislation. Of course I didn t go into any buildings or anything.) I m not much of a morning person, so I often set off after lunch. For the longer rides I would usually pack a picnic. Almost all of the rides I did just by myself. There were a handful where I had friends along: Dry Drayton, which I collected with Clare, at night. I held my bike up so the light shone at the village sign, so we could take a photo of it. Madingley, Melbourn and Meldreth, which was quite an expedition with my friend Ben. We went out as far as Royston and nearby Barley (both outside my radius and not on my list) mostly just so that my project would have visited Hertfordshire. The Hemingfords, where I had my friend Matthew along, and we had a very nice pub lunch. Girton and Wilburton, where I visited friends. Indeed, I stopped off in Wilburton on one or two other occasions. And, of course, Yelling, for which there were four of us, again with a nice lunch (in Eltisley). I had relatively little mechanical trouble. My worst ride for this was Exning: I got three punctures that day. Luckily the last one was close to home. I often would stop to take lots of photos en-route. My mum in particular appreciated all the pretty pictures. Rules I decided on these rules: I would cycle to each destination, in order, and it would count as collected if I rode both there and back. I allowed collecting multiple villages in the same outing, provided I did them in the right order. (And obviously I was allowed to pass through places out of order, without counting them.) I tried to get a picture of the village sign, where there was one. Failing that, I got a picture of something in the village with the village s name on it. I think the only one I didn t manage this for was Westley Bottom; I had to make do with the word Westley on some railway level crossing equipment. In Barway I had to make do with a planning application, stuck to a pole. I tried not to enter and leave a village by the same road, if possible. Edge cases I had to make some decisions: I decided that I would consider the project complete if I visited everywhere whose centre was within my radius. But the centre of a settlement is rather hard to define. I needed a hard criterion for my OpenStreetMap data mining: a place counted if there was any node, way or relation, with the relevant place tag, any part of which was within my ambit. That included some places that probably oughtn t to have counted, but, fine. I also decided that I wouldn t visit suburbs of Cambridge, separately from Cambridge itself. I don t consider them separate settlements, at least, not if they re conurbated with Cambridge. So that excluded Trumpington, for example. But I decided that Girton and Fen Ditton were (just) separable. Although the place where I consider Girton and Cambridge to nearly touch, is administratively well inside Girton, I chose to look at land use (on the ground, and in OSM data), rather than administrative boundaries. But I did visit both Histon and Impington, and all each of the Shelfords and Stapleford, as separate entries in my list. Mostly because otherwise I d have to decide whether to skip (say) Impington, or Histon. Whereas skipping suburbs of Cambridge in favour of Cambridge itself was an easy decision, and it also got rid of a bunch of what would have been quite short, boring, urban expeditions. I sorted all the Greats and Littles under G and L, rather than (say) Shelford, Great , which seemed like it would be cheating because then I would be able to do Shelford, Great and Shelford, Little in one go. Northstowe turned from mostly a building site into something that was arguably a settlement, during my project. It wasn t included in the output of my original data mining. Of course it s conurbated with Oakington - but happily, Northstowe inserts right before Oakington in the alphabetical list, so I decided to add it, visiting both the old and new in the same day. There are a bunch of other minor edge cases. Some villages have an outlying hamlet. Mostly I included these. There are some individual farms, which I generally didn t count. Some stats I visited 150 villages plus the Lords Bridge radio observatory. The project took 3 years and 3 months to complete. There were 96 rides, totalling about 4900km. So my mean distance was around 51km. The median distance per ride was a little higher, at around 52 km, and the median duration (including stoppages) was about 2h40. The total duration, if you add them all up, including stoppages, was about 275h, giving a mean speed including photo stops, lunches and all, of 18kph. The longest ride was 89.8km, collecting Scotland Farm, Shepreth, and Six Mile Bottom, so riding across the Cam valley. The shortest ride was 7.9km, collecting Cambridge (obviously); and I think that s the only one I did on my Brompton. The rest were all on my trusty Thorn Audax. My fastest ride (ranking by distance divided by time spent in motion) was to collect Haddenham, where I covered 46.3km in 1h39, giving an average speed in motion of 28.0kph. The most I collected in one day was 5 places: West Wickham, West Wratting, Westley Bottom, Westley Waterless, and Weston Colville. That was the day of the Wests. (There s only one East: East Hatley.) Map Here is a pretty picture of all of my tracklogs:
Edited 2023-08-25 01:32 BST to correct a slip.

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23 August 2023

Jo Shields: Retirement

Apparently it s nearly four years since I last posted to my blog. Which is, to a degree, the point here. My time, and priorities, have changed over the years. And this lead me to the decision that my available time and priorities in 2023 aren t compatible with being a Debian or Ubuntu developer, and realistically, haven t been for years. As of earlier this month, I quit as a Debian Developer and Ubuntu MOTU. I think a lot of my blogging energy got absorbed by social media over the last decade, but with the collapse of Twitter and Reddit due to mismanagement, I m trying to allocate more time for blog-based things instead. I may write up some of the things I ve achieved at work (.NET 8 is now snapped for release Soon ). I might even blog about work-adjacent controversial topics, like my changed feelings about the entire concept of distribution packages. But there s time for that later. Maybe. I ll keep tagging vaguely FOSS related topics with the Debian and Ubuntu tags, which cause them to be aggregated in the Planet Debian/Ubuntu feeds (RSS, remember that from the before times?!) until an admin on those sites gets annoyed at the off-topic posting of an emeritus dev and deletes them. But that s where we are. Rather than ignore my distro obligations, I ve admitted that I just don t have the energy any more. Let someone less perpetually exhausted than me take over. And if they don t, maybe that s OK too.

11 August 2023

Scarlett Gately Moore: KDE: Post Akademy Snap Wrap Up and Future

Skrooge snapKDE Skrooge snap
It has been a very busy couple of weeks in the KDE snap world! Here is a rundown of what has been done:
An update to the Very exciting news coming soon : While everything went well, it is not (yet!) happening. I do not have the management experience the stakeholders are looking for to run the project. I understand completely! I have the passion and project experience, just not management in this type of project. So with that said, are you a KDE/C++ developer with a management background and have a history of bringing projects to the finishline? Are you interested in an exciting new project with new technologies? Talk to me! I can be reached via sgmoore on the various chat channels, sgmoore at kde dot org, or connect via linkedin and message: If you know anyone that might be interested, please point them here! As this project gets further delayed, it leaves me without an income still. If you or someone you know has any short term contract work let me know. Pesky bills and life expenses don t pay themselves  If you can spare some change ( anything helps ) please consider a donation. A big thank you to the community for making my work possible thus far!

4 August 2023

Shirish Agarwal: License Raj 2.0, 2023

About a week back Jio launched a laptop called JioBook that will be manufactured in China
The most interesting thing is that the whole thing will be produced in Hunan, China. Then 3 days later India mandates a licensing requirement for Apple, Dell and other laptop/tablet manufacturers. And all of these in the guise of Make in India . It is similar how India has exempted Adani and the Tatas from buying as much solar cells as are needed and then sell the same in India. Reliance will be basically monopolizing the laptop business. And if people think that projects like Raspberry Pi, Arduino etc. will be exempted they have another think coming.

History of License Raj After India became free, in the 1980s the Congress wanted to open its markets to the world just like China did. But at that time, the BJP, though small via Jan Sangh made the argument that we are not ready for the world. The indian businessman needs a bit more time. And hence a compromise was made. The compromise was simple. Indian Industry and people who wanted to get anything from the west, needed a license. This was very much in line how the Russian economy was evolving. All the three nations, India, China and Russia were on similar paths. China broke away where it opened up limited markets for competition and gave state support to its firms. Russia and Japan on the other hand, kept their markets relatively closed. The same thing happened in India, what happened in Russia and elsewhere. The businessman got what he wanted, he just corrupted the system. Reliance, the conglomerate today abused the same system as much as it could. Its defence was to be seen as the small guy. I wouldn t go into that as that itself would be a big story in itself. Whatever was sold in India was sold with huge commissions and just like Russia scarcity became the order of the day. Monopolies flourished and competition was nowhere. These remained till 1991 when Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh was forced to liberalize and open up the markets. Even at that time, the RSS through its Swadeshi Jagran Manch was sharing the end of the world prophecies for the Indian businessman.

2014 Current Regime In 2010, in U.K. the Conservative party came in power under the leadership of David Cameron who was influenced by the policies of Margaret Thatcher who arguably ditched manufacturing in the UK. David Cameron and his party did the same 2010 onwards but for public services under the name austerity. India has been doing the same. The inequality has gone up while people s purchasing power has gone drastically down. CMIE figures are much more drastic and education is a joke.
Add to that since 2016 funding for scientists have gone to the dogs and now they are even playing with doctor s careers. I do not have to remind people that a woman scientist took almost a quarter century to find a drug delivery system that others said was impossible. And she did it using public finance. Science is hard. I have already shared in a previous blog post how it took the Chinese 20 years to reach where they are and somehow we think we will be able to both China and Japan. Of the 160 odd countries that are on planet earth, only a handful of countries have both the means and the knowledge to use and expand on that. While I was not part of Taiwan Debconf, later I came to know that even Taiwan in many ways is similar to Japan in the sense that a majority of its population is stuck in low-paid jobs (apart from those employed in TSMC) which is similar to Keiretsu or Chabeol from either Japan or South Korea. In all these cases, only a small percentage of the economy is going forward while the rest is stagnating or even going backwards. Similar is the case in India as well  Unlike the Americans who chose the path to have more competition, we have chosen the path to have more monopolies. So even though, I very much liked Louis es project sooner or later finding the devices itself would be hard. While the recent notification is for laptops, what stops them from doing the same with mobiles or even desktop systems. As it is, both smartphones as well as desktop systems has been contracting since last year as food inflation has gone up. Add to that availability of products has been made scarce (whether by design or not, unknown.) The end result, the latest processor launched overseas becomes the new thing here 3-4 years later. And that was before this notification. This will only decrease competition and make Ambanis rich at cost of everyone else. So much for east of doing business . Also the backlash has been pretty much been tepid. So what I shared will probably happen again sooner or later. The only interesting thing is that it s based on Android, probably in part due to the issues people seeing in both Windows 10, 11 and whatnot. Till later. Update :- The print tried a decluttering but instead cluttered the topic. While what he shared all was true, and certainly it is a step backwards but he didn t need to show how most Indians had to go to RBI for the same. I remember my Mamaji doing the same and sharing afterwards that all he had was $100 for a day which while being a big sum was paltry if you were staying in a hotel and were there for company business. He survived on bananas and whatver cheap veg. he could find then. This is almost 35-40 odd years ago. As shared the Govt. has been doing missteps for quite sometime now. The print does try to take a balanced take so it doesn t run counter of the Government but even it knows that this is a bad take. The whole thing about security is just laughable, did they wake up after 9 years. And now in its own wisdom it apparently has shifted the ban instead from now to 3 months afterwards. Of course, most people on the right just applauding without understanding the complexities and implications of the same. Vendors like Samsung and Apple who have made assembly operations would do a double-think and shift to Taiwan, Vietnam, Mexico anywhere. Global money follows global trends. And such missteps do not help

Implications in A.I. products One of the things that has not been thought about how companies that are making A.I. products in India or even MNC s will suffer. Most of them right now are in stealth mode but are made for Intel or AMD or ARM depending upon how it works for them. There is nothing to tell if the companies made their plea and was it heard or unheard. If the Government doesn t revert it then sooner or later they would either have to go abroad or cash out/sell to somebody else. Some people on the right also know this but for whatever reason have chosen to remain silent. Till later

Shirish Agarwal: Birth Control, Consent, Rape & Violence.

Consent, Violence, Sexual Abuse This again would be somewhat of a mature post. So children, please refrain from reading. When I hear the above words, my first thought goes to Aamir Khan s Season 1 Episode 2 in Satyamev Jayate. This was the first time that the topic of child sexual abuse was bought in the forefront in the hall rather than a topic to be discussed in the corner. Unfortunately, that episode is still in Hindi and no English subtitles available even today shows a lack of sensitivity in Indian s part to still come to terms with Child abuse that happens in India. The numbers that they had shared at that time were shocking. More than 50 per cent children experience sexual abuse and mostly from friends or relatives. That means 1 in every 2 children. And this was in 2012. But the problem of child sexual abuse didn t start then, it started in the 1960 s, 70 s. In the 1960 s, 1970s we didn t have much of cinema and TV and whatever there was pretty limited. There were few B movie producers, but most of them came into their own in the 1980s. So what influenced Indians in those days were softcore magazines that either had a mature aunt or a teen and they would tease and sooner or later the man would sort of overpower them and fulfill his needs. Even mainstream Indian cinema used similar tropes. One of the most memorable songs of that era Wada Karo Nahi Chodoge Tum Meera Saath from Aa Gale Lag jaa. A bit of context for the song. This is where Shashi Kapoor sees, he tries to ask her to date him, she says no. He tries to put an act where he shows he can t skate or rather pretends. And kinda takes a promise from her that she will date him if he is able to skate. And viola, the next moment he is not just skating, but dancing and singing as well. And the whole he touches her and you can see that is uncomfortable and yet after a while he woos her. Now this is problematic today because we are seeing it from today s lens. It might also have problematic with the feminists of that time, but they probably would have been called overly sensitive or something like that. And this is what went in Universal cinema. But this is just tip of the surface. There were and are multiple poems and even art in those times that flirted and even sort of engaged with sexual molestation, rape both in poems as well as literature, both in Hindi and various regional literature. Similar to stuff that Keats and some other poets (problematic stuff) they wrote and where both men and women were in two minds, whether to take all the other good literature out or kinda make the difference between the art and artist. Now, while Aamir spoke about consent it wasn t in any official capacity or even a legal capacity. The interesting thing was that there was an Act that kinda put some safeguards but had been doing rounds for almost a decade. Because the extremists on both sides, Hindus and Muslims were not in favor of that Act, it was still doing rounds. Aamir s episode on 6th May 2012 and the discussions in mainstream media following that forced the Indian legislature to make POSCO as a law on 22nd May 2012. Almost 6 months to 2 weeks, Nirbhaya happened and changes to the law happened in another 6 months. Both voyeurism and stalking were made jailable offenses and consent became part of lingua franca in the Supreme Court. Couple of weeks back, I had shared in the Manipur case the part about fingering . In the same Act, another change that was done that insertion of any part including foreign objects in any of the openings would be classed as rape . So in that Manipur case, at least those 2-3 people who have been identified as clear perpetrators according to the law of land would be rapists and should have the highest punishment. Unfortunately, the system is rigged against women as Vrinda Grover had shared just couple of weeks back. How a 6 month fast track case (to be completed within 6 months) becomes a 10 year old case tells you the efficacy of the system. The reality is far more worse than is shared or known. Just a few months ago, GOI shared some data on Sexual Harassment in 2018-19. And this is after constant pressurizing by Activists that GOI doesn t like. In fact, in 2021, Unicef had shared data about how India was one of the five countries where child brides are still prevalent. India denied but didn t produce any alternative data. The firing of Mr. James over NHFS data sets doesn t give it any brownie points to the present Government. What has happened in the last few years is that the Government for reasons of its own had been scrubbing and censoring a lot of data. I won t go far, just 2 day old story which I had shared just couple of days back. Roughly a 25 year old RPF constable kills his superior and kills 3 Muslims after going to various coaches and then the Government uses the defence of temporary insanity.
Even the mental instability defence has twists and turns
Incidentally, Press Trust of India is s private organization and not the public broadcaster of the old. And incidentally, just a few days back, it came to light that they hadn t paid Income tax for last 2-3 years. Because of issues in reward money, the public came to know otherwise they wouldn t have known. Coming back to the topic itself, there was a video where you could hear and see the accused stating after killing the three Muslims that if you want to remain in India, then you have to vote for only Modi or Yogi, otherwise this will happen. That video was scrubbed both from Twitter as well as YouTube. All centralized platforms at the very least, whether it is Google (Youtube) or Twitter or Meta uses its own media ID. Meta s being most problematic but that probably being a discussion for another day. The same censorship tools are applied rigorously and lot of incidents are buried. Cases of girls being thrown in lakes just after lakes or low numbers of conviction in case of gang rapes are more often than not disappears.
The above article shared just a few days ago that how low the conviction rates of gang rapes are in Gujarat tells you the story. You might get the story today, but wait for a few weeks and you will find that the story has disappeared. What most people do not know or understand is that the web is increasingly a public repository of idea, imaginations and trust and authoritarian regimes like Government of India is increasingly using both official as well as unofficial methods to suppress the same. To see that in the last 9 odd years, GOI has made the highest number of takedown requests and been either number one or number two tells all. My question is where we do from here ??? If even the Minister and her Ministry can do only whataboutery rather than answer the questions, then how we are supposed to come up solutions. And even if a solution exists, without the state and Center agreeing and co-operating with civil society, any solution will be far off the desired result. I am sorry that I at least have no answers

2 August 2023

Shirish Agarwal: Kaalkoot

Kaalkoot This post would be mature and would talk about death and other things. So if there are young kids or whatever kindly refrain from reading it. Just saw this series in 2 days. In a way the series encompasses all that which is wrong in India and partly the World perhaps. IMDB describes it as A police officer must deal with society s and his mother s pressure to marry, as well as frequent bullying and pressure from his superiors. But that hardly does justice to either the story or the script or the various ebbs and flows it takes. A very bit part of the series of the series is about patriarchy and the various forms it takes. It tells how we would use women and then throw them, many a times by willing relatives who want to save face . And it s so many ways and so many times that people do not even pay attention. I will not share the story as it needs to be experienced as well as the many paths the story takes as well as many paths it could have taken. What is remarkable about this series is that everyone is grey apart from the women who are victims in all of these. Even our hero, the protagonist uses it to take advantage of a woman. There are multiple stories and timelines that are just touched upon. For e.g. curing the gay and boasting he has cured many guys and now have their married with families. How many families suffered god only knows, both sexes dissatisfied  At the end of the series while a slightly progressive end is shown, in reality you are left wondering whether the decision taken by the protagonist and the woman having just no agency. The hero knowing he is superior to her because of her perceived weakness. A deep-rooted malaise that is difficult to break out of. His father too and the relationship the hero longs for to have with his father who is no more. He does share some of his feelings with his mum, which touches the cord of probably every child whose mother father left them early and all those things they wanted to talk or would have chatted out if they knew this would be the last conversation they will ever have with them. Couldn t even say sorry for all the wrongs and the pain we have given them. There are just too many layers in the webseries that I would need to see it a few times to be aware of. I could sense the undercurrents but sometimes you need to see such series or movies multiple times to understand them or it could simply be the case of me being just too thick. There are also poems and poems as we know may have multiple meanings and is or can be more contextual to the person reading it rather than the creator. At the end, while it does show a positive end, in reality I feel there is no redemption for us. I am talking about men. We are too proud, too haughty and too insecure. And if things don t go the way we want, it s the women who pay the price  I am not going to talk about any news either about Manipur or anywhere else because hate crimes have become normal. An RPF personnel plans, and goes from coach to coach to find Muslims and shoot them and then say only the tallest leaders in RW should be voted for. A mob then burns down Muslim s homes and businesses, all par for the course. The mentally unstable moniker taken right from the American far-right notebook.
The Americans have taken it much further than anyone else using open carry and stand your ground, laws to make blacks afraid and going further. I don t really wanna go down that route as it s a whole another pandora s box and what little I have read tells me it starts from the very beginning when the European settlers invaded America and took indigenous people s lands and giving it the moniker of Wild West . Just too much to deal with.

Mental Health But these spate of bad news, of murders, rapes and whatnot does take a toll on the mental health of people. Take this tweet as instance
I think the above tweet is an expression that is felt by many Indians, whatsoever their religion might be. Most of them unable to express it as many have responsibilities in which they are the only caretakers or the only earner in the family. So even though, we have huge inflation especially in foods and whatnot the daily struggle to put food on the table extinguishes everything else. And for those who may want to go through for whatever reasons, there is nothing like MAID in India. There was a good debate that I saw few months ago about it, and I think both the for and against miss a very crucial point. People have their own idea or imagination of what dignity in living as well as dignity of dying. I was seeing some videos of NHS doctors (UK) where many doctors couldn t do anything as their patients died as they couldn t pay bills for heating. Many of the patients wanted the doctors to end their suffering. The case against it is that people should reach out and have community services. While that is a great theory, practically it is difficult. Whether it is in dense populated area like Pune (population around 10 odd million) or the whole country of Japan which is heavily being depopulated, in both the extreme scenarios the access to mental health is and would be low. And even if there is someway that the Government, the community, business community etc. come altogether and solve it, it just shifts the problem. All the shit, our fears, our uncertainties, our doubts we unload on the medical health professional but where do they go to get rid of it. It s a vicious circular problem. I did read somewhere that mental health professionals are four times prone to suicide than other doctors. And all emergency care professionals like firefighters and whatnot are again 4 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. How much those stats are true, have no clue as again most of such kinds of data is not collected by NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) in India. In fact, NCRB often describes such deaths as accidental deaths as otherwise the person would be termed as loser or something else. Even in and after death, people are worried about labels. But that I guess is what s it all about. I do not know but do guess most of the 160 odd countries would have similar issues and most of them keep quiet about it. Till later

1 August 2023

Jonathan Dowland: Interzone's new home

IZ #294, the latest issue IZ #294, the latest issue
The long running British1 SF Magazine Interzone has a new home and new editor, Gareth Jelley, starting with issue 294. It's also got a swanky new format ("JB6"): a perfect-bound, paperback novel size, perfect for fitting into an oversize coat or jeans pocket for reading on the train. I started reading Interzone in around 2003, having picked up an issue (#176) from Feb 2002 that was languishing on the shelves in Forbidden Planet. Once I discovered it I wondered why it had taken me so long. That issue introduced me to Greg Egan. I bought a number of back issues on eBay, to grab issues with stories by people including Terry Pratchett, Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and others.
IZ #194: The first by TTA press IZ #194: The first by TTA press
A short while later in early 2004, after 22 years, Interzone's owner and editorship changed from David Pringle to Andy Cox and TTA Press. I can remember the initial transition was very jarring: the cover emphasised expanding into coverage of Manga, Graphic Novels and Video Games (which ultimately didn't happen) but after a short period of experimentation it quickly settled down into a similarly fantastic read. I particularly liked the move to a smaller, perfect-bound form-factor in 2012. I had to double-check this but I'd been reading IZ throughout the TTA era and it lasted 18 years! Throughout that time I have discovered countless fantastic authors that I would otherwise never have experienced. Some (but by no means all) are Dominic Green, Daniel Kaysen, Chris Beckett, C cile Cristofari, Aliya Whiteley, Tim Major, Fran oise Harvey, Will McIntosh. Cox has now retired (after 100 issues and a tenure almost as long as Pringle) and handed the reins to Gareth Jelley/MYY Press, who have published their first issue, #294. Jelley is clearly putting a huge amount of effort into revitalizing the magazine. There's a new homepage at but also companion internet presences: a plethora of digital content at, Interzone Socials (a novel idea), a Discord server, a podcast, and no doubt more. Having said that, the economics of small magazines have been perilous for a long time, and that hasn't changed, so I think the future of IZ (in physical format at least) is in peril. If you enjoy short fiction, fresh ideas, SF/F/Fantastika; why not try a subscription to Interzone, whilst you still can!

  1. Interzone has always been "British", in some sense, but never exclusively so. I recall fondly a long-term project under Pringle to publish a lot of Serbian writer Zoran ivkovi , for example, and the very first story I read was by Australian Greg Egan. Under Jelley, the magazine is being printed in Poland and priced in Euros. I expect it to continue to attract and publish writers from all over the place.

30 July 2023

Russell Coker: Links July 2023 has an interesting article about finding evidence for nanohertz gravity waves [1]. 1nano-Herz is a wavelength of 31.7 light years! Wired has an interesting story about OpenAI saying that no further advances will be made with larger training models [2]. Bruce Schneier and Nathan Sanders wrote an insightful article about the need for government run GPT type systems [3]. He focuses on the US, but having other countries/groups of countries do it would be good too. We could have a Chinese one, an EU one, etc. I don t think it would necessarily make sense for a small country like Australia to have one but it would make a lot more sense than having nuclear submarines (which are much more expensive). The Roadmap project is a guide for learning new technologies [4]. The content seems quite good. Bigthink has an informative and darkly amusing article Horror stories of cryonics: The gruesome fates of futurists hoping for immortality [5]. From this month in Australia psilocybin (active ingredient in Magic Mushrooms) can be prescribed for depression and MDMA (known as Ecstacy on the streets) can be prescribed for PTSD [6]. That s great news! Slate has an interesting article about the Operation Underground Railroad organisation that purports to help sex trafficed chilren [7]. This is noteworthy now with the controverst over the recent movie about that. Apparently they didn t provide much help for kids after they had been rescued and at least some of the kids were trafficed specifically to fulfill the demand that they created by offering to pay for it. Vigilantes aren t as effective as law enforcement. The ACCC is going to prevent Apple and Google from forcing app developers to give them a share of in-app purchases in Australia [8]. We need this in every country! This site has links to open source versions of proprietary games [9]. Vice has an interesting article about the Hungarian neuroscientist Viktor T th who taught rats to play Doom 2 [10]. The next logical step is to have mini tanks that they can use in real battlefields. Like the Mason s Rats episode of Love Death and Robots on Netflix. Brian Krebs wrote a mind boggling pair of blog posts about the Ashley Adison hack [11]. A Jewish disgruntled ex-employee sending anti-semitic harassment to the Jewish CEO and maybe cooperating with anti-semitic organisations to harass him is one of the people involved, but he killed himself (due to mental health problems) before the hack took place. Long Now has an insightful blog post about digital avatars being used after the death of the people they are based on [12]. Tavis Ormandy s description of the zenbleed bug is interesting [13]. The technique for finding the bug is interesting as well as the information on how the internals of the CPUs in question work. I don t think this means AMD is bad, trying to deliver increasing performance while limited by the laws of physics is difficult and mistakes are sometimes made. Let s hope the microcode updates are well distributed. The Hacktivist documentary about Andrew Bunnie Huang is really good [14]. Bunnie s lecture about supply chain attacks is worth watching [15]. Most descriptions of this issue don t give nearly as much information. However bad you thought this problem was, after you watch this lecture you will realise it s worse than that!

29 July 2023

Shirish Agarwal: Manipur, Data Leakage, Aadhar, and IRCv3

Manipur Lot of news from Manipur. Seems the killings haven t stopped. In fact, there was a huge public rally in support of the rapists and murderers as reported by Imphal Free Press. The Ruling Govt. both at the Center and the State being BJP continuing to remain mum. Both the Internet shutdowns have been criticized and seems no effect on the Government. Their own MLA was attacked but they have chosen to also be silent about that. The opposition demanded that the PM come in both the houses and speak but he has chosen to remain silent. In that quite a few bills were passed without any discussions. If it was not for the viral videos nobody would have come to know of anything  . Internet shutdowns impact women disproportionately as more videos of assaults show  Of course, as shared before that gentleman has been arrested under Section 66A as I shared in the earlier blog post. In any case, in the last few years, this Government has chosen to pass most of its bills without any discussions. Some of the bills I will share below. The attitude of this Govt. can be seen through this cartoon
The above picture shows the disqualified M.P. Rahul Gandhi because he had asked what is the relationship between Adani and Modi. The other is the Mr. Modi, the Prime Minister who refuses to enter and address the Parliament. Prem Panicker shares how we chillingly have come to this stage when even after rapes we are silent

Data Leakage According to most BJP followers this is not a bug but a feature of this Government. Sucheta Dalal of Moneylife shared how the data leakage has been happening at the highest levels in the Government. The leakage is happening at the ministerial level because unless the minister or his subordinate passes a certain startup others cannot come to know. As shared in the article, while the official approval may take 3-4 days, within hours other entities start congratulating. That means they know that the person/s have been approved.While reading this story, the first thought that immediately crossed my mind was data theft and how easily that would have been done. There was a time when people would be shocked by articles such as above and demand action but sadly even if people know and want to do something they feel powerless to do anything

PAN Linking and Aadhar Last month GOI made PAN Linking to Aadhar a thing. This goes against the judgement given by the honored Supreme Court in September 2018. Around the same time, Moneylife had reported on the issue on how the info. on Aadhar cards is available and that has its consequences. But to date nothing has happened except GOI shrugging. In the last month, 13 crore+ users of PAN including me affected by it  I had tried to actually delink the two but none of the banks co-operated in the same  Aadhar has actually number of downsides, most people know about the AEPS fraud that has been committed time and time again. I have shared in previous blog posts the issue with biometric data as well as master biometric data that can and is being used for fraud. GOI either ignorant or doesn t give a fig as to what happens to you, citizen of India. I could go on and on but it would result in nothing constructive so will stop now

IRCv3 I had been enthused when I heard about IRCV3. While it was founded in 2016, it sorta came on in its own in around 2020. I did try matrix or rather riot-web and went through number of names while finally setting on element. While I do have the latest build 1.11.36 element just hasn t been workable for me. It is too outsized, and occupies much more real estate than other IM s (Instant Messengers and I cannot correct size it like I do say for qbittorrent or any other app. I had filed couple of bugs on it but because it apparently only affects me, nothing happened afterwards  But that is not the whole story at all. Because of Debconf happening in India, and that too Kochi, I decided to try out other tools to see how IRC is doing. While the Debian wiki page shares a lot about IRC clients and is also helpful in sharing stats by popcounter ( popularity-contest, thanks to whoever did that), it did help me in trying two of the most popular clients. Pidgin and Hexchat, both of which have shared higher numbers. This might be simply due to the fact that both get downloaded when you install the desktop version or they might be popular in themselves, have no idea one way or the other. But still I wanted to see what sort of experience I could expect from both of them in 2023. One of the other things I noticed is that Pidgin is not a participating organization in ircv3 while hexchat is. Before venturing in, I also decided to take a look at Came to know that for sometime now, oftc has started using web verify. I didn t see much of a difference between hcaptcha and gcaptcha other than that the fact that they looked more like oil paintings rather than anything else. While I could easily figure the odd man out or odd men out to be more accurate, I wonder how a person with low or no vision would pass that ??? Also much of our world is pretty much contextual based, figuring who the odd one is or are could be tricky. I do not have answers to the above other than to say more work needs to be done by oftc in that area. I did get a link that I verified. But am getting ahead of the story. Another thing I understood that for some reason oftc is also not particpating in ircv3, have no clue why not :(I

Account Registration in Pidgin and Hexchat This is the biggest pain point in both. I failed to register via either Pidgin or Hexchat. I couldn t find a way in either client to register my handle. I have had on/off relationships with IRC over the years, the biggest issue being IIRC is that if you stop using your handle for a month or two others can use it. IIRC, every couple of months or so, irc/oftc releases the dormant ones. Matrix/Vector has done quite a lot in that regard but that s a different thing altogether so for the moment will keep that aside. So, how to register for the network. This is where comes in. You get a quaint 1970 s IRC window (probably emulated) where you call Nickserv to help you. As can be seen it one of the half a dozen bots that helps IRC. So the first thing you need to do is /msg nickserv help what you are doing is asking nickserv what services they have and Nickserv shares the numbers of services it offers. After looking into, you are looking for register /msg nickerv register Both the commands tell you what you need to do as can be seen by this
Let s say you are XYZ and your e-mail address is This is just a throwaway id I am taking for the purpose of showing how the process is done. For this, also assume your passowrd is 1234xyz;0x something like this. I have shared about APG (Advanced Password Generator) before so you could use that to generate all sorts of passwords for yourself. So next would be /msg nickserv register 1234xyz;0x Now the thing to remember is you need to be sure that the email is valid and in your control as it would generate a link with hcaptcha. Interestingly, their accessibility signup fails or errors out. I just entered my email and it errors out. Anyway back to it. Even after completing the puzzle, even with the valid username and password neither pidgin or hexchat would let me in. Neither of the clients were helpful in figuring out what was going wrong. At this stage, I decided to see the specs of ircv3 if they would help out in anyway and came across this. One would have thought that this is one of the more urgent things that need to be fixed, but for reasons unknown it s still in draft mode. Maybe they (the participants) are not in consensus, no idea. Unfortunately, it seems that the participants of IRCv3 have chosen a sort of closed working model as the channel is restricted. The only notes of any consequence are being shared by Ilmari Lauhakangas from Finland. Apparently, Mr/Ms/they Ilmari is also a libreoffice hacker. It is possible that their is or has been lot of drama before or something and that s why things are the way they are. In either way, doesn t tell me when this will be fixed, if ever. For people who are on mobiles and whatnot, without element, it would be 10x times harder. Update :- Saw this discussion on github. Don t see a way out  It seems I would be unable to unable to be part of Debconf Kochi 2023. Best of luck to all the participants and please share as much as possible of what happens during the event.

27 July 2023

Louis-Philippe V ronneau: My new friend Ted

About 6 months ago, I decided to purchase a bike trailer. I don't drive and although I also have a shopping caddy, it often can't handle a week's groceries. The trailer, attached to my bike, hauling two storage crates Since the goal for the trailer was to haul encumbering and heavy loads, I decided to splurge and got a Surly Ted. The 32" x 24" flat bed is very versatile and the trailer is rated for up to 300 lbs (~135 kg). At around 30 lbs (~13.5 kg), the trailer itself is light enough for me to climb up the stairs to my apartment with it. Having seldom driven a bike trailer before, I was at first worried about its handling and if it would jerk me around (as some children's chariots tend to). I'm happy to report the two pronged hitch Surly designed works very well and lets you do 180 turns effortlessly. The trailer on my balcony, ready to be hoisted So far, I've used the trailer to go grocery shopping, buy bulk food and haul dirt and mulch. To make things easier, I've purchased two 45L storing crates from Home Depot and added two planks of wood on each side of the trailer to stabilise things when I strap the crates down to the bed. Since my partner and I are subscribed to an organic farmer's box during the summer and get baskets from Lufa during the winter, picking up our groceries at the pick-up point is as easy as dumping our order in the storing crates and strapping them back to the trailer. The pulleys on the roof of my balcony Although my housing cooperative has a (small) indoor bicycle parking space, my partner uses our spot during the summer, which means I have to store the trailer on my balcony. To make things more manageable and free up some space, I set up a system of pulleys to hoist the trailer up the air when it's not in use. I did go through a few iterations, but I'm pretty happy with the current 8 pulleys block and tackle mechanism I rigged. The trailer hoisted to the roof of the balcony All and all, this trailer wasn't cheap, but I regret nothing. Knowing Surley's reputation, it will last me many years and not having to drive a car to get around always ends up being the cheaper solution.

26 July 2023

Shirish Agarwal: Manipur Violence, Drugs, Binging on Northshore, Alaska Daily, Doogie Kamealoha and EU Digital Resilence Act.

Manipur Videos Warning: The text might be mature and will have references to violence so if there are kids or you are sensitive, please excuse. Few days back, saw the videos and I cannot share the rage, shame and many conflicting emotions that were going through me. I almost didn t want to share but couldn t stop myself. The woman in the video were being palmed, fingered, nude, later reportedly raped and murdered. And there have been more than a few cases. The next day saw another video that showed beheaded heads, and Kukis being killed just next to their houses. I couldn t imagine what those people must be feeling as the CM has been making partisan statements against them. One of the husbands of the Kuki women who had been paraded, fondled is an Army Officer in the Indian Army. The Meiteis even tried to burn his home but the Army intervened and didn t let it get burnt. The CM s own statement as shared before tells his inability to bring the situation out of crisis. In fact, his statement was dumb stating that the Internet shutdown was because there were more than 100 such cases. And it s spreading to the nearby Northeast regions. Now Mizoram, the nearest neighbor is going through similar things where the Meitis are not dominant. The Mizos have told the Meitis to get out. To date, the PM has chosen not to visit Manipur. He just made a small 1 minute statement about it saying how the women have shamed India, an approximation of what he said.While it s actually not the women but the men who have shamed India. The Wire has been talking to both the Meitis, the Kukis, the Nagas. A Kuki women sort of bared all. She is right on many counts. The GOI while wanting to paint the Kukis in a negative light have forgotten what has been happening in its own state, especially its own youth as well as in other states while also ignoring the larger geopolitics and business around it. Taliban has been cracking as even they couldn t see young boys, women becoming drug users. I had read somewhere that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 young person in Afghanistan is now in its grip. So no wonder,the Taliban is trying to eradicate and shutdown drug use among it s own youth. Circling back to Manipur, I was under the wrong impression that the Internet shutdown is now over. After those videos became viral as well as the others I mentioned, again the orders have been given and there is shutdown. It is not fully shut but now only Govt. offices have it. so nobody can share a video that goes against any State or Central Govt. narrative  A real sad state of affairs  Update: There is conditional reopening whatever that means  When I saw the videos, the first thing is I felt was being powerless, powerless to do anything about it. The second was if I do not write about it, amplify it and don t let others know about it then what s the use of being able to blog

Mental Health, Binging on various Webseries Both the videos shocked me and I couldn t sleep that night or the night after. it. Even after doing work and all, they would come in unobtrusively in my nightmares  While I felt a bit foolish, I felt it would be nice to binge on some webseries. Little I was to know that both Northshore and Alaska Daily would have stories similar to what is happening here  While the story in Alaska Daily is fictional it resembles very closely to a real newspaper called Anchorage Daily news. Even there the Intuit women , one of the marginalized communities in Alaska. The only difference I can see between GOI and the Alaskan Government is that the Alaskan Government was much subtle in doing the same things. There are some differences though. First, the State is and was responsive to the local press and apart from one close call to one of its reporters, most reporters do not have to think about their own life in peril. Here, the press cannot look after either their livelihood or their life. It was a juvenile kid who actually shot the video, uploaded and made it viral. One needs to just remember the case details of Siddique Kappan. Just for sharing the news and the video he was arrested. Bail was denied to him time and time again citing that the Police were investigating . Only after 2 years and 3 months he got bail and that too because none of the charges that the Police had they were able to show any prima facie evidence. One of the better interviews though was of Vrinda Grover. For those who don t know her, her Wikipedia page does tell a bit about her although it is woefully incomplete. For example, most recently she had relentlessly pursued the unconstitutional Internet Shutdown that happened in Kashmir for 5 months. Just like in Manipur, the shutdown was there to bury crimes either committed or being facilitated by the State. For the issues of livelihood, one can take the cases of Bipin Yadav and Rashid Hussain. Both were fired by their employer Dainik Bhaskar because they questioned the BJP MP Smriti Irani what she has done for the state. The problems for Dainik Bhaskar or for any other mainstream media is most of them rely on Government advertisements. Private investment in India has fallen to record lows mostly due to the policies made by the Centre. If any entity or sector grows a bit then either Adani or Ambani will one way or the other take it. So, for most first and second generation entrepreneurs it doesn t make sense to grow and then finally sell it to one of these corporates at a loss  GOI on Adani, Ambani side of any deal. The MSME sector that is and used to be the second highest employer hasn t been able to recover from the shocks of demonetization, GST and then the pandemic. Each resulting in more and more closures and shutdowns. Most of the joblessness has gone up tremendously in North India which the Government tries to deny. The most interesting points in all those above examples is within a month or less, whatever the media reports gets scrubbed. Even the firing of the journos that was covered by some of the mainstream media isn t there anymore. I have to use secondary sources instead of primary sources. One can think of the chilling effects on reportage due to the above. The sad fact is even with all the money in the world the PM is unable to come to the Parliament to face questions.
Why is PM not answering in Parliament,, even Rahul Gandhi is not there - Surya Pratap Singh, prev. IAS Officer.
The above poster/question is by Surya Pratap Singh, a retired IAS officer. He asks why the PM is unable to answer in either of the houses. As shared before, the Govt. wants very limited discussion. Even yesterday, the Lok Sabha TV just showed the BJP MP s making statements but silent or mic was off during whatever questions or statements made by the opposition. If this isn t mockery of Indian democracy then I don t know what is  Even the media landscape has been altered substantially within the last few years. Both Adani and Ambani have distributed the media pie between themselves. One of the last bastions of the free press, NDTV was bought by Adani in a hostile takeover. Both Ambani and Adani are close to this Goverment. In fact, there is no sector in which one or the other is not present. Media houses like Newsclick, The Wire etc. that are a fraction of mainstream press are where most of the youth have been going to get their news as they are not partisan. Although even there, GOI has time and again interfered. The Wire has had too many 504 Gateway timeouts in the recent months and they had been forced to move most of their journalism from online to video, rather Youtube in order to escape both the censoring and the timeouts as shared above. In such a hostile environment, how both the organizations are somehow able to survive is a miracle. Most local reportage is also going to YouTube as that s the best way for them to not get into Govt. censors. Not an ideal situation, but that s the way it is. The difference between Indian and Israeli media can be seen through this
The above is a Screenshot shared by how the Israeli media has reacted to the Israeli Government s Knesset over the judicial overhaul . Here, the press itself erodes its own by giving into the Government day and night

Binging on Webseries Saw Northshore, Three Pines, Alaska Daily and Doogie Kamealoha M.D. which is based on Doogie Howser M.D. Of the four, enjoyed Doogie Kamealoha M.D. the most but then it might be because it s a copy of Doogie Howser, just updated to the new millenia and there are some good childhood memories associated with that series. The others are also good. I tried to not see European stuff as most of them are twisted and didn t want that space.

EU Digital Operational Resilience Act and impact on FOSS Few days ago, apparently the EU shared the above Act. One can read about it more here. This would have more impact on FOSS as most development of various FOSS distributions happens in EU. Fair bit of Debian s own development happens in Germany and France. While there have been calls to make things more clearer, especially for FOSS given that most developers do foss development either on side or as a hobby while their day job is and would be different. The part about consumer electronics and FOSS is a tricky one as updates can screw up your systems. Microsoft has had a huge history of devices not working after an update or upgrade. And this is not limited to Windows as they would like to believe. Even apple seems to be having its share of issues time and time again. One would have hoped that these companies that make billions of dollars from their hardware and software sales would be doing more testing and Q&A and be more aware about security issues. FOSS, on the other hand while being more responsive doesn t make as much money vis-a-vis the competitors. Let s take the most concrete example. The most successful mobile phone having FOSS is Purism. But it s phone, it has priced itself out of the market. A huge part of that is to do with both economies of scale and trying to get an infrastructure and skills in the States where none or minimally exists. Compared that to say Pinepro that is manufactured in Hong Kong and is priced 1/3rd of the same. For most people it is simply not affordable in these times. Add to that the complexity of these modern cellphones make it harder, not easier for most people to be vigilant and update the phone at all times. Maybe we need more dumphones such as Light and Punkt but then can those be remotely hacked or not, there doesn t seem to be any answers on that one. I haven t even seen anybody even ask those questions. They may have their own chicken and egg issues. For people like me who have lost hearing, while I can navigate smartphones for now but as I become old I don t see anything that would help me. For many an elderly population, both hearing and seeing are the first to fade. There doesn t seem to be any solutions targeted for them even though they are 5-10% of any population at the very least. Probably more so in Europe and the U.S. as well as Japan and China. All of them are clearly under-served markets but dunno a solution for them. At least to me that s an open question.

21 July 2023

Gunnar Wolf: Road trip through mountain ridges to find the surreal

We took a couple of days of for a family vacation / road trip through the hills of Central Mexico. The overall trip does not look like anything out of the ordinary Other than the fact that Google forecasted we d take approximately 15.5 hours driving for 852Km that is, an average of almost 55 Km/h. And yes, that s what we signed up for. And that s what we got. Of course, the exact routes are not exactly what Google suggested (I can say we optimized a bit the route, i.e., by avoiding the metropolitan area of Quer taro, at the extreme west, and going via San Juan del R o / Tequisquiapan / Bernal). The first stretch of the road is just a regular, huge highway, with no particular insights. The highways leaving and entering Mexico City on the North are not fun nor beautiful, only they are needed to get nice trips going Mexico City sits at a point of changing climates. Of course, it is a huge city And I cannot imagine how it would be without all of the urbanization it now sports. But anyway: On the West, South, and part of the East, it is surrounded by high mountains, with beautiful and dense forests. Mexico City is 2200m high, and most of the valley s surrounding peaks are ~3000m (and at the South Eastern tip, our two big volcanoes, Popocat petl and Iztacc huatl, get past the 5700m mark). Towards the North, the landscape is flatter and much more dry. Industrial compounds give way to dry grasslands. Of course, central Mexico does not understand the true meaning of flat, and the landscape is full with eh-not-very-big mountains. Then, as we entered Quer taro State, we started approaching Bernal. And we saw a huge rock that looks like it is not supposed to be there! It just does not fit the surroundings. Shortly after Bernal, we entered a beautiful, although most crumpled, mountain ridge: Sierra Gorda de Quer taro. Sierra Gorda encompasses most of the North of the (quite small 11500Km total) state of Quer taro, plus portions of the neighboring states; other than the very abrupt and sharp orography, what strikes me most is the habitat diversity it encompasses. We started going up an absolute desert, harsh and beautiful; we didn t take pictures along the way as the road is difficult enough that there are almost no points for stopping for refreshments or for photo opportunities. But it is quite majestic. And if you think deserts are barren, boring places well, please do spend some time enjoying them! Anyway At on point, the road passes by a ~3100m height, and suddenly Pines! More pines! A beautiful forest! We reached our first stop at the originally mining town of Pinal de Amoles. After spending the night there and getting a much needed rest, we started a quite steep descent towards Jalpan de Serra. While it is only ~20Km away on the map, we descended from 2300 to 760 meters of altitude (and the road was over 40Km long). Being much lower, the climate drastically changed from cool and humid to quite warm and the body attitude in the kids does not lie! In the mid-18th century, Fray Jun pero Serra established five missions to evangelize the population of this very harsh territory, and the frontispiece for the church and monastery in Jalpan is quite breathtaking. But we were just passing by Jalpan. A short visit to the church and to the ice-cream shop, and we were again on our way. We crossed the state border, entering San Luis Potos , and arrived to our main destination: Xilitla, the little town in the beautiful Huasteca where the jungle meets surrealism. Xilitla was chosen by the British poet and patron of various surrealist artists He was a British noble (an unofficial grandson of King Edward VII), and heir to a huge fortune. I m not going to repeat here his very well known biography suffice to say that he got in love with the Huasteca, and bought a >30ha piece of jungle and mountain close to the Xilitla town, and made it his house. With very ample economic resources, in the late 1940s he started his lifelong project of building a surrealist garden. And Well, that s enough blabbering for me. I m sharing some pictures I took there. The place is plainly magic and wonderful. Edward James died in 1984, and his will decrees that after his death, the jungle should be allowed to reclaim the constructions so many structures are somewhat crumbling, and it is expected they will break down in the following decades. But for whoever comes to Mexico This magic place is definitely worth the heavy ride to the middle of the mountains and to the middle of the jungle. Xilitla now also hosts a very good museum with sculptures by Leonora Carrington, James long-time friend, but I m not going to abuse this space with even more pictures. And of course, we did more, and enjoyed more, during our three days in Xilitla. And for our way back I wanted to try a different route. We decided to come back to Mexico City crossing Hidalgo state instead of Quer taro. I had feared the roads would be in a worse shape or would be more difficult to travel And I was happy to be proven wrong! This was the longest driving stretch approximately 6:30 for 250Km. The roads are in quite decent shape, and while there are some stretches where we were quite lonely (probably the loneliest one was the sharp ascent from Tamazunchale to the detour before Orizatl n), the road felt safe and well kept at all times. The sights all across Eastern Hidalgo are breathtaking, and all furiously green (be it with really huge fern leaves or with tall, strong pines), until Zacualtip n. And just as abruptly or more as when we entered Pinal de Amoles We crossed Orizatl n, and we were in a breathtaking arid, desert-like environment again. We crossed the Barranca de Metztitl n natural reserve, and arrived to spend the night at Huasca de Ocampo. There are many more things we could have done starting at Huasca, a region where old haciendas thrived, full of natural formations, and very very interesting. But we were tired and pining to be finally back home. So we rested until mid-morning and left straight back home in Mexico City. Three hours later, we were relaxing, preparing lunch, the kids watching whatever-TV-like-things are called nowadays. All in all, a very beautiful vacation!

19 July 2023

Shirish Agarwal: RISC-V, Chips Act, Burning of Books, Manipur

RISC -V Motherboard, SBC While I didn t want to, a part of me is hyped about this motherboard. This would probably be launched somewhere in November. There are obvious issues in this, the first being unlike regular motherboards you wouldn t be upgrade as you would do.You can t upgrade your memory, can t upgrade the CPU (although new versions of instructions could be uploaded, similar to BIOS updates) but as the hardware is integrated (the quad-core SiFive Performance P550 core complex) it would really depend. If the final pricing is around INR 4-5k then it may be able to sell handsomely provided there are people to push and provide support around it. A 500 GB or 1 TB SSD coupled with it and a cheap display unit and you could use it anywhere although as the name says it s more for tinkering as the name suggests. Another board that could perhaps be of more immediate use would be the beagleboard. They launched the same couple of days back and called it Beagle V-Ahead. Again, costs are going to be a concern. Just a year before the pandemic the Beagleboard Black (BB) used to cost in the sub 4k range, today it costs 8k+ for the end user, more than twice the price. How much Brexit is to be blamed for this and how much the Indian customs we would never know. The RS Group that is behind that shop is head-quartered in the UK. As said before, we do not know the price of either board as it probably will take few months for v-ahead to worm its way in the Indian market, maybe another 6 months or so. Even so, with the limited info. on both the boards, I am tilting more towards the other HiFive one. We should come to know about the boards say in 3-5 months of time.

CHIPS Act I had shared about the Chips Act a few times here as well as on SM. Two articles do tell how the CHIPS Act 2023 is more of a political tool, an industrial defence policy rather than just business as most people tend to think.

Cancelation of Books, Books Burning etc. Almost 2400 years ago, Plato released his work called Plato s Republic and one of the seminal works within it is perhaps one of the most famous works was the Allegory of the Cave. That is used again and again in a myriad ways, mostly in science-fiction though and mostly to do with utopian, dystopian movies, webseries etc. I did share how books are being canceled in the States, also a bit here. But the most damning thing has happened throughout history, huge quantities of books burned almost all for politics  But part of it has been neglect as well as this time article shares. What we have lost and continue to lose is just priceless. Every book has a grain of truth in it, some more, some less but equally enjoyable. Most harmful is the neglect towards books and is more true today than any other time in history. Kids today have a wide variety of tools to keep themselves happy or occupied, from anime, VR, gaming the list goes on and on. In that scenario, how the humble books can compete. People think of Kindle but most e-readers like Kindle are nothing but obsolescence by design. I have tried out Kindle a few times but find it a bit on the flimsy side. Books are much better IMHO or call me old-school. While there are many advantages, one of the things that I like about books is that you can easily put yourself in either the protagonist or the antagonist or somewhere in the middle and think of the possible scenarios wherever you are in a particular book. I could go on but it will be a blog post or two in itself. Till later. Happy Reading.

Update:Manipur Extremely horrifying visuals, articles and statements continue to emanate from Manipur. Today, 19th July 2023, just couple of hours back, a video surfaced showing two Kuki women were shown as stripped, naked and Meitei men touching their private parts. Later on, we came to know that this was in response of a disinformation news spread by the Meitis of few women being raped although no documentary evidence of the same surfaced, no names nothing. While I don t want to share the video I will however share the statement shared by the Kuki-Zo tribal community on that. The print gives a bit more context to what has been going on.
Update, Few hours later : The Print also shared more of a context about six days ago. The reason we saw the video now was that for the last 2.5 months Manipur was in Internet shutdown so those videos got uploaded now. There was huge backlash from the Twitter community and GOI ordered the Manipur Police to issue this Press Release yesterday night or just few hours before with yesterday s time-stamp.
IndianExpress shared an article that does state that while an FIR had been registered immediately no arrests so far and this is when you can see the faces of all the accused. Not one of them tried to hide their face behind a mask or something. So, if the police wanted, they could have easily identified who they are. They know which community the accused belong to, they even know from where they came. If they wanted to, they could have easily used mobile data and triangulation to find the accused and their helpers. So, it does seem to be attempt to whitewash and protect a certain community while letting it prey on the other. Another news that did come in, is because of the furious reaction on Twitter, Youtube has constantly been taking down the video as some people are getting a sort of high more so from the majoritarian community and making lewd remarks. Twitter has been somewhat quick when people are making lewd remarks against the two girl/women. Quite a bit of the above seems like a cover-up. Lastly, apparently GOI has agreed to having a conversation about it in Lok Sabha but without any voting or passing any resolutions as of right now. Would update as an when things change. Update: Smriti Irani, the Child and Development Minister gave the weakest statement possible
As can be noticed, she said sexual assault rather than rape. The women were under police custody for safety when they were whisked away by the mob. No mention of that. She spoke to the Chief Minister who has been publicly known as one of the provocateurs or instigators for the whole thing. The CM had publicly called the Kukus and Nagas as foreigners although both of them claim to be residing for thousands of years and they apparently have documentary evidence of the same  . Also not clear who is doing the condemning here. No word of support for the women, no offer of intervention, why is she the Minister of Child and Women Development (CDW) if she can t use harsh words or give support to the women who have gone and going through horrific things  Update : CM Biren Singh s Statement after the video surfaced
This tweet is contradictory to the statements made by Mr. Singh couple of months ago. At that point in time, Mr. Singh had said that NIA, State Intelligence Departments etc. were giving him minute to minute report on the ground station. The Police itself has suo-moto (on its own) powers to investigate and apprehend criminals for any crime. In fact, the Police can call for questioning of anybody in any relation to any crime and question them for upto 48 hours before charging them. In fact, many cases have been lodged where innocent persons have been framed or they have served much more in the jail than the crime they are alleged to have been committed. For e.g. just a few days before there was a media report of a boy who has been in jail for 3 years. His alleged crime, stealing mere INR 200/- to feed himself. Court doesn t have time to listen to him yet. And there are millions like him. The quint eloquently shares the tale where it tells how both the State and the Centre have been explicitly complicit in the incidents ravaging Manipur. In fact, what has been shared in the article has been very true as far as greed for land is concerned. Just couple of weeks back there have been a ton of floods emanating from Uttarakhand and others. Just before the flooding began, what was the CM doing can be seen here. Apart from the newspapers I have shared and the online resources, most of the mainstream media has been silent on the above. In fact, they have been silent on the Manipur issue until the said video didn t come into limelight. Just now, in Lok Sabha everybody is present except the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. The PM did say that the law will take its own course, but that s about it. Again no support for the women concerned.  Update: CJI (Chief Justice of India) has taken suo-moto cognizance and has warned both the State and Centre to move quickly otherwise they will take the matter in their own hand.
Update: Within 2 hours of the CJI taking suo-moto cognizance, they have arrested one of the main accused Heera Das
The above tells you why the ban on Internet was put in the first place. They wanted to cover it all up. Of all the celebs, only one could find a bit of spine, a bit of backbone to speak about it, all the rest mum
Just imagine, one of the women is around my age while the young one could have been a daughter if I had married on time or a younger sister for sure. If ever I came face to face with them, I just wouldn t be able to look them in the eye. Even their whole whataboutery is built on sham. From their view Kukis are from Burma or Burmese descent. All of which could be easily proved by DNA of all. But let s leave that for a sec. Let s take their own argument that they are Burmese. Their idea of Akhand Bharat stretches all the way to Burma (now called Myanmar). They want all the land but no idea with what to do with the citizens living on it. Even after the video, the whataboutery isn t stopping, that shows how much hatred is there. And not knowing that they too will be victim of the same venom one or the other day  Update: Opposition was told there would be a debate on Manipur. The whole day went by, no debate. That s the shamelessness of this Govt.  Update 20th July 19:25 Center may act or not act against the perpetrators but they will act against Twitter who showed the crime. Talk about shooting the messenger
We are now in the last stage. In 2014, we were at 6

10 July 2023

Shirish Agarwal: PLIO, Mum, Debconf, Pressure Cooker, RISC-V,

PLIO I have been looking for an image viewer that can view images via modification date by default. The newer, the better. Alas, most of the image viewers do not do that. Even feh somehow fails. What I need is default listing of images as thumbnails by modification date. I put it up on Unix Stackexchange couple of years ago. Somebody shared ristretto but that just gives listing and doesn t give the way I want it. To be more illustrative, maybe this may serve as a guide to what I mean.
There is an RFP for it. While playing with it, I also discovered another benefit of the viewer, a sort of side-benefit, it tells you if any images have gone corrupt or whatever and you get that info. on the CLI so you can try viewing that image with the path using another viewer or viewers before deleting them. One of the issues is there doesn t seem to be a magnify option by default. While the documentation says use the ^ key to maximize it, it doesn t maximize. Took me a while to find it as that isn t a key that I use most of the time. Ironically, that is the key used on the mobile quite a bit. Anyways, so that needs to be fixed. Sadly, it doesn t have creation date or modification date sort, although the documentation does say it does (at least the modification date) but it doesn t show at my end. I also got Warning: UNKNOWN command detected! but that doesn t tell me enough as to what the issue is. Hopefully the developer will fix the issues and it will become part of Debian as many such projects are. Compiling was dead easy even with gcc-12 once I got freeimage-dev.

Mum s first death anniversary I do not know where the year went by or how. The day went in a sort of suspended animation. The only thing I did was eat and sleep that day, didn t feel like doing anything. Old memories, even dreams of fighting with her only to realize in the dream itself it s fake, she isn t there anymore  Something that can never be fixed

Debconf Kochi I should have shared it few days ago but somehow slipped my mind. While it s too late for most people to ask for bursary for Debconf Kochi, if you are anywhere near Kochi in the month of September between the dates. September 3 to September 17 nearby Infopark, Kochi you could walk in and talk to people. This would be for people who either have an interest in free software, FOSS or Debian specific. For those who may not know, while Debian is a Linux Distribution having ports to other kernels as well as well as hardware. While I may not be able to provide the list of all the various flavors as well as hardware, can say it is quite a bit. For e.g. there is a port to RISC-V that was done few years back (2018). Why that is needed will be shared below. There is always something new to look forward in a Debconf.

Pressure Cooker and Potatoes This was asked to me in the last Debconf (2016) by few people. So as people are coming to India, it probably is a good time to sort of reignite the topic :). So a Pressure Cooker boils your veggies and whatnot while still preserving the nutrients. While there are quite a number of brands I would suggest either Prestige or Hawkins, I have had good experience with both. There are also some new pressure cookers that have come that are somewhat in the design of the Thai Wok. So if that is something that you are either comfortable with or looking for, you could look at that. One of the things that you have to be sort of aware of and be most particular is the pressure safety valve. Just putting up pressure cooker safety valve in your favorite search-engine should show you different makes and whatnot. While they are relatively cheap, you need to see it is not cracked, used or whatever. The other thing is the Pressure Cooker whistle as well. The easiest thing to cook are mashed potatoes in a pressure cooker. A pressure Cooker comes in Litres, from 1 Ltr. to 20 Ltr. The larger ones are obviously for hotels or whatnot. General rule of using Pressure cooker is have water 1/4th, whatever vegetable or non-veg you want to boil 1/2 and let the remaining part for the steam. Now the easiest thing to do is have wash the potatoes and put 1/4th water of the pressure cooker. Then put 1/2 or less or little bit more of the veggies, in this instance just Potatoes. You can put salt to or that can be done later. The taste will be different. Also, there are various salts so won t really go into it as spices is a rabbit hole. Anyways, after making sure that there is enough space for the steam to be built, Put the handle on the cooker and basically wait for 5-10 minutes for the pressure to be built. You will hear a whistling sound, wait for around 5 minutes or a bit more (depends on many factors, kind of potatoes, weather etc.) and then just let it cool off naturally. After 5-10 minutes or a bit more, the pressure will be off. Your mashed potatoes are ready for either consumption or for further processing. I am assuming gas, induction cooking will have its own temperature, have no idea about it, hence not sharing that. Pressure Cooker, first put on the heaviest settings, once it starts to whistle, put it on medium for 5-10 minutes and then let it cool off. The first time I had tried that, I burned the cooker. You understand things via trial and error.

Poha recipe This is a nice low-cost healthy and fulfilling breakfast called Poha that can be made anytime and requires at the most 10-15 minutes to prepare with minimal fuss. The main ingredient is Poha or flattened rice. So how is it prepared. I won t go into the details of quantity as that is upto how hungry people are. There are various kinds of flattened rice available in the market, what you are looking for is called thick Poha or zhad Poha (in Marathi). The first step is the trickiest. What do you want to do is put water on Poha but not to let it be soggy. There is an accessory similar to tea filter but forgot the name, it basically drains all the extra moisture and you want Poha to be a bit fluffy and not soggy. The Poha should breathe for about 5 minutes before being cooked. To cook, use a heavy bottomed skillet, put some oil in it, depends on what oil you like, again lot of variations, you can use ground nut or whatever oil you prefer. Then use single mustard seeds to check temperature of the oil. Once the mustard seeds starts to pop, it means it s ready for things. So put mustard seeds in, finely chopped onion, finely chopped coriander leaves, a little bit of lemon juice, if you want potatoes, then potatoes too. Be aware that Potatoes will soak oil like anything, so if you are going to have potatoes than the oil should be a bit more. Some people love curry leaves, others don t. I like them quite a bit, it gives a slightly different taste. So the order is
  1. Oil
  2. Mustard seeds (1-2 teaspoon)
  3. Curry leaves 5-10
  4. Onion (2-3 medium onions finely chopped, onion can also be used as garnish.)
  5. Potatoes (2-3 medium ones, mashed)
  6. Small green chillies or 1-2 Red chillies (if you want)
  7. Coriander Leaves (one bunch finely chopped)
  8. Peanuts (half a glass)
Make sure that you are stirring them quite a bit. On a good warm skillet, this should hardly take 5 minutes. Once the onions are slighly brown, you are ready to put Poha in. So put the poha, add turmeric, salt, and sugar. Again depends on number of people. If I made for myself and mum, usually did 1 teaspoon of salt, not even one fourth of turmeric, just a hint, it is for the color, 1 to 2 teapoons of sugar and mix them all well at medium flame. Poha used to be two or three glasses. If you don t want potato, you can fry them a bit separately and garnish with it, along with coriander, coconut and whatnot. In Kerala, there is possibility that people might have it one day or all days. It serves as a snack at anytime, breakfast, lunch, tea time or even dinner if people don t want to be heavy. The first few times I did, I did manage to do everything wrong. So, if things go wrong, let it be. After a while, you will find your own place. And again, this is just one way, I m sure this can be made as elaborate a meal as you want. This is just something you can do if you don t want noodles or are bored with it. The timing is similar. While I don t claim to be an expert in cooking in anyway or form, if people have questions feel free to ask. If you are single or two people, 2 Ltr. Pressure cooker is enough for most Indians, Westerners may take a slightly bit larger Pressure Cooker, maybe a 3 Ltr. one may be good for you. Happy Cooking and Experimenting  I have had the pleasure to have Poha in many ways. One of my favorite ones is when people have actually put tadka on top of Poha. You do everything else but in a slight reverse order. The tadka has all the spices mixed and is concentrated and is put on top of Poha and then mixed. Done right, it tastes out of this world. For those who might not have had the Indian culinary experience, most of which is actually borrowed from the Mughals, you are in for a treat. One of the other things I would suggest to people is to ask people where there can get five types of rice. This is a specialty of South India and a sort of street food. I know where you can get it Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai but not in Kerala, although am dead sure there is, just somehow have missed it. If asked, am sure the Kerala team should be able to guide. That s all for now, feeling hungry, having dinner as have been sharing about cooking.

RISC-V There has been lot of conversations about how India could be in the microprocesor spacee. The x86 and x86-64 is all tied up in Intel and AMD so that s a no go area. Let me elaborate a bit why I say that. While most of the people know that IBM was the first producers of transistors as well as microprocessors. Coincidentally, AMD and Intel story are similar in some aspects but not in others. For a long time Intel was a market leader and by hook or crook it remained a market leader. One of the more interesting companies in the 1980s was Cyrix which sold lot of low-end microprocessors. A lot of that technology also went into Via which became a sort of spiritual successor of Cyrix. It is because of Cyrix and Via that Intel was forced to launch the Celeron model of microprocessors.

Lawsuits, European Regulation For those who have been there in the 1990s may have heard the term Wintel that basically meant Microsoft Windows and Intel and they had a sort of monopoly power. While the Americans were sorta ok with it, the Europeans were not and time and time again they forced both Microsoft as well as Intel to provide alternatives. The pushback from the regulators was so great that Intel funded AMD to remain solvent for few years. The successes that we see today from AMD is Lisa Su s but there is a whole lot of history as well as bad blood between the two companies. Lot of lawsuits and whatnot. Lot of cross-licensing agreements between them as well. So for any new country it would need lot of cash just for licensing all the patents there are and it s just not feasible for any newcomer to come in this market as they would have to fork the cash for the design apart from manufacturing fab.

ARM Most of the mobiles today sport an ARM processor. At one time it meant Advanced RISC Machines but now goes by Arm Ltd. Arm itself licenses its designs and while there are lot of customers, you are depending on ARM and they can change any of the conditions anytime they want. You are also hoping that ARM does not steal your design or do anything else with it. And while people trust ARM, it is still a risk if you are a company.

RISC and Shakti There is not much to say about RISC other than this article at Register. While India does have large ambitions, executing it is far trickier than most people believe as well as complex and highly capital intensive. The RISC way could be a game-changer provided India moves deftly ahead. FWIW, Debian did a RISC port in 2018. From what I can tell, you can install it on a VM/QEMU and do stuff. And while RISC has its own niches, you never know what happens next.One can speculate a lot and there is certainly a lot of momentum behind RISC. From what little experience I have had, where India has failed time and time again, whether in software or hardware is support. Support is the key, unless that is not fixed, it will remain a dream  On a slightly sad note, Foxconn is withdrawing from the joint venture it had with Vedanta.

30 June 2023

Shirish Agarwal: Motherboard battery, Framework, VR headsets, Steam

Motherboard Battery You know you have become too old when you get stumped and the solution is simple and fixed by the vendor. About a week back, I was getting CPU Fan Error. It s a 6 year old desktop so I figured that the fan or the ball bearings on the fan must have worn out. I opened up the cabinet and I could see both the on cpu fan was working coolly as well as the side fan was working without an issue. So I couldn t figure out what was the issue. I had updated the BIOS/UEFI number of years ago so that couldn t be an issue. I fiddled with the boot menu and was able to boot into Linux but it was a pain that I had to do every damn time. As it is, it takes almost 2-3 minutes for the whole desktop to be ready and this extra step was annoying. I had bought a Mid-tower cabinet while the motherboard so there were alternate connectors I could try but still the issue persisted. And this workaround was heart-breaking as you boot the BIOS/UEFI and fix the boot menu each time even though it had Debian Boot Launcher and couple of virtual ones provided by the vendor (Asus) and they were hardwired. So failing all, went to my vendor/support and asked if he could find out what the issue is. It costed me $10, he did all the same things I did but one thing more, he changed the battery (cost less than 1USD) and presto all was right with the world again. I felt like a fool but a deal is a deal so paid the gentleman for his services. Now can again use the desktop and at least know about what s happening in the outside world.

Framework Laptops I have been seeing quite a few teardowns of Framework Laptops on Youtube and love it. More so, now that they have AMD in their arsenal. I do hope they work on their pricing and logistics and soon we have it here competing with others. If the pricing isn t substantial then definitely would be one of the first ones to order. India is and remains a very cost-conscious market and more so with the runaway prices that we have been seeing. In fact, the last 3 years have been pretty bad for the overall PC market declining 30% YoY for the last 3 years while prices have gone through the roof. Apart from the pricing from the vendors, taxation has been another hit as the current Govt. has been taxing anywhere from 30-100% taxes on various PC, desktop and laptop components. Think have shared Graphic cards for instance have 100% Duty apart from other taxes. I don t see the market picking up at least in the 24 to 36 months. Most of this year and next year, both AMD and Intel are doing refreshes so while there would be some improvements (probably 10-15%) not earth-shattering for the wider market to sit up and take notice. Intel has proposed a 64-bit architecture (only) about couple of months back, more on that later. As far as the Indian market is concerned, if you want the masses, then have lappies at around 40-50k ($600 USD) and there would be a mass takeup, if you want to be a Lenovo or something like that, then around a lakh or INR 100k ($1200 USD) or be an Apple which is around 150k INR or around 2000 USD. There are some clues as to what their plans but for that you have to trawl their forums and the knowledgebase. Seems some people are using freight forwarders to get around the hurdles but Framework doesn t want to do any shortcuts for the same. Everybody seems to be working on Vertical stacking of chips, whether it is the Chinese, or Belgian s or even AMD and Intel who have their own spins to it, but most of these technologies are at least 3-4 years out in the future (or more). India is a big laggard in this space with having knowledge of 45nm which in Aviation speak one could say India knows how to build 707 (one of the first Boeing commercial passenger carrying aircraft) while today it is Boeing 777x or Airbus 350. I have shared in the past how the Tata s have been trying to collaborate with the Japanese and get at least their 25nm chip technology but nothing has come of it to date. The only somewhat o.k. news has been the chip testing and packaging plant by Micron to be made in Gujarat. It doesn t do anything for us although we would be footing almost 70% of the plant s capital expenditure and the maximum India will get 4k jobs. Most of these plants are highly automated as dust is their mortal enemy so even the 4k jobs announced seem far-fetched. It would probably be less than half once production starts if it happens  but that is probably a story for another time. Just as a parting shot, even memory vendors are going highly automated factory lines.

VR Headsets I was stuck by how similar or where VR is when I was watching Made in Finland. I don t want to delve much into the series but it is a fascinating one. I was very much taken by the character of Kari Kairamo or the actor who played the character of him and was very much disappointed with the sad ending the gentleman got. It is implicated in the series that the banks implicitly forced him to commit suicide. There is also a lot of chaos as is normal in a big company having many divisions. It s only when Jorma Olila takes over, the company sheds a lot of dead weight was cut off with mobiles having the most funding which they didn t have before. I was also fascinated when I experienced pride when Nokia shows off its 1011 mobile phone when at that time phones were actually like bricks. My first Nokia was number of years later, Nokia 1800 and have to say those phones outlasted a long time than today s Samsung s. If only Nokia had read the tea leaves right  Back to the topic though, I have been wearing glasses since the age of 5 year old. They weigh less than 10 grams and you still get a nose dent. And I know enough people, times etc. when people have got headaches and whatnot from glasses. Unless the VR headsets become that size and don t cost an arm and leg (or a kidney or a liver) it would have niche use. While 5G and 6G would certainly push more ppl to get it it probably would take a few more years before we have something that is simple and doesn t need too much to get it rolling. The series I mentioned above is already over it s first season but would highly recommend it. I do hope the second season happens quickly and we do come to know why and how Nokia missed the Android train and their curious turn to get to Microsoft which sorta sealed their fate

Steam I have been following Steam, Luthris and plenty of other launchers on Debian. There also seems to some sort of an idea that once MESA 23.1.x or later comes into Debian at some point we may get Steam 64-bit and some people are hopeful that we may get it by year-end. There are a plethora of statistics that can be used to find status of Gaming on Linux. This is perhaps the best one I got so far. Valve also has its own share of stats that it shows here. I am not going to go into much detail except the fact that lutris has been there on Debian sometime now. And as and when Steam does go fully 64-bit, whole lot of multilib issues could be finally put to rest. Interestingly, Intel has quietly also shared details of only a 64-bit architecture PC. From what I could tell, it simply boots into 16-bit and then goes into 64-bit bypassing the 32-bit. In theory, it should remove whole lot code, make it safer as well as faster. If rival AMD was to play along things could move much faster. Now don t get me wrong, 32-bit was good, but for it s time. I m sure at some point in time even 64-bit would have its demise, and we would jump to 128-bit. Of course, in reality we aren t anywhere close to even 48-bit, leave alone 64-bit. Superuser gives a good answer on that. We may be a decade or more before we exhaust that but for sure there will be need for better, faster hardware especially as we use more and more of AI for good and bad things. I am curious to see how it pans out and how it will affect (or not) FOSS gaming. FWIW, I used to peruse which kinda ended in 2021 and now use Lee Reilly blog posts to know what is happening in github as far as FOSS games are concerned. There is also a whole thing about handhelds and gaming but that probably would require its own blog post or two. There are just too many while at the same time too few (legally purchasable in India) to have its own blog post, maybe sometime in Future. Best way to escape the world. Till later.